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I went to buy a lottery ticket in Mississippi; everything’s broken

It was a historic day in Mississippi Thursday. It became the 45th state to start selling lottery tickets. But in true Mississippi style, things didn’t quite go to plan. Some people might say it was a little cattywampus.

I was expecting palpable excitement and restless hope, as people lined up outside of gas station doors in the hope of winning the jackpot of $40 million and finally fulfilling their lifelong dream of moving to Alabama.

But I didn’t see any of that. “What’s going on?” I wondered to myself while already imagining the ways in which I would blow the jackpot on something that my parents would find infuriating, like disappearing forever.

My best guess was that people were at home watching daytime TV, maybe Judge Judy or reruns of the Dukes of Hazzard. Or maybe the rumors were true and people in Mississippi had jobs.

This man won five scratch offs.

The truth was even more puzzling.

One Chevron gas station owner said he’d been waiting two months just to get the scratch-offs, which went on sale back in late November. He didn’t even have a lottery machine, he said.

This was all curious since the Governor of Mississippi signed the lottery into law Sept. 1 2018. I knew things moved slow in Mississippi, but this was slower than the Amtrak train from New Orleans to Mobile.

The gas station owners I spoke to in Pascagoula, the closest major Mississippi city to Alabama’s Gulf Coast, told me more or less the same story. “We’re waiting on them coming to train us,” said the person manning the checkout at Murphy’s gas station. Same deal at Papa Rock’s Oaks gas station in Moss Point, the first gas station I came across on my journey to a life of great riches and anonymity. And unlimited conecuh sausage.

The owner of T&S Cornermart said he’d sent in all the paperwork but couldn’t get anyone on the phone at the Mississippi Lottery. He then asked if I was from the state lottery. I said “no,” while simultaneously thinking how much I have in common with a lottery. Unpredictable and ultimately disappointing.

Others said they were waiting on permits.

I drove to a dozen more gas stations in Pascagoula looking for a shot at glory, a way to pay off my car note once and for all, and finally invest in Moon Pies so I can make them taste of something other than sweet cardboard.

As I drove down the main road in Pascagoula, weaving in and out of the endless roadworks, I wondered if everything in Mississippi was dysfunctional. I then saw a small U.S. Postal Service van being pulled by a pickup truck. And, as I walked into a Starbucks the transformer blew. I was forced to get my Turkey and Pesto ciabatta roll elsewhere.

The answer was yes, everything here is broken. I saw potholes that made the moon look smooth.

A U.S. Postal Service van hitching a ride in Mississippi.

And while you may not believe it, Mississippi is my favorite state because like me, it’s doesn’t do anything very quickly and also has no money. But best of all, we don’t care what others think.

So, Pascagoula was a wash.

“How will I get rich if stay here?” I thought. I decided people in Biloxi, home of Mississippi’s towering cash cow casinos, would probably know what’s up.

I started driving to Gautier, a cute little town west of Pascagoula. I happened upon Keith’s Superstore. Although Mr. Keith wasn’t available for comment today, the women behind the counter said that a majority of people were buying lottery tickets and scratch-offs with most purchases of gas or items from the store.

But still no lines of people dreaming of spending all their lottery winnings in Margaritaville.

But you could see people with heads down inside their cars in Keith’s parking lot, furiously scratching the thin metallic layer separating them from a cash win, which I hope they’ll spend on a vintage orange 1969 Dodge Charger. Doors welded shut, obviously.

One man walked in with five winning tickets and immediately asked for his winnings in more scratch-offs, which I’m told is what most people do. The checkout woman said it had been a steady stream of winners all day, usually $100 or below. If you win more than $600 you have to send your winning ticket or scratch-off to the lottery office in Flowood, Mississippi, wherever that is.

I immediately recalled the immobilized USPS van and decided I would probably drive my winning ticket to the office in person. Then I would almost certainly helicopter home like a boss.

Every state bordering Alabama now has a state lottery, investing proceeds into roads, bridges, education, and kindergarten, among other things. Religious objections have prevented a lottery making it through in Montgomery. God, it seems, is cool with potholes.

At a Circle K in Biloxi, Fred Adams bought $9 worth of tickets and promised to split it with Shelby, who was the in-store lottery expert that day. After being asked what he’d do if he won the lottery, Adams said, after 45 seconds of deliberation, he’d take his family on vacation. It was unconvincing because I could tell he would move to Alabama in a heartbeat. Who wouldn’t?!

Buying a Mississippi lottery ticket.

“I’m gonna be the first jackpot winner,” Shelby said after Adams had left. I was moderately happy for her.

It was also in Biloxi where I decided my fortune would be made. I bought two $5 Mississippi Blues scratch-offs at a Shell gas station. I won $10 on the first card and a free scratch-off on the second. And because I’m a responsible young man with my whole life ahead of me, I decided the best investment was three more Mississippi Blues scratch-offs. I won nothing, which means I will continue working at AL.com in earnest – until at least the weekend when the first Mississippi Lottery balls will be drawn. I have two tickets.

Good luck and thank god for broken Mississippi.

In case you are the serious-type: Mississippi’s Clarion-Ledger tells you how to play the lottery here and makes sure you know there are nearly 1,350 retailers who are playing along.

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I went to buy a lottery ticket in Mississippi; everything’s broken It was a historic day in Mississippi Thursday. It became the 45th state to start selling lottery tickets. But in true

Lottery in Alabama? Will it finally happen? Here’s what you need to know

Could Alabama soon join Mississippi in having a statewide lottery? Dan Gleiter, PennLive, 2016 PENNLIVE.COM

The Alabama Senate passed the lottery bill by a vote of 21-12, yesterday, advancing the measure to the House. If approved there, it will go on the ballot for voters in the March 2020 presidential primary.

Alabama voters could soon have their say on a statewide lottery.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest chapter in the long – and complicated – history of efforts to bring a lottery to Alabama.

What’s happening?

Sen. Greg Albritton, R-Atmore, has introduced a measure to establish a lottery in Alabama. The proposal cleared its first hurdle Tuesday, winning approval – albeit on a close 6-5 vote – from the Senate Tourism Committee. The measure now goes to the full Senate which could vote as soon as this week. If approved in the upper chamber, it moves to the House.

It takes approval by three-fifths of senators and representatives to put a proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot.

What would legislative approval mean?

Legislators would not be the final say on the lottery. The lottery would require a constitutional amendment and that would have to be approved by state voters.

What kind of lottery would Alabama have?

Albritton’s bill would limit the lottery to multi-state or intrastate games played with paper tickets and instant tickets, such as Lotto. It excludes any forms of electronic gaming, including video lottery terminals, internet-based video or casino-style games. The bill would not change the status of any of the current forms of legal gambling in the state.

How much money would the lottery generate?

Fiscal notes on the bill estimates it would bring in as much as $167 million a year, after payouts and expenses.

What would the money be used for?

Initially, revenue from the lottery would be used to repay the Alabama Trust Fund, which transferred $184 million to the General Fund to balance the state budgets in 2013, 2014 and 2015. After that, the proceeds would be split evenly between Alabama Trust Fund and the General Fund.

What does Gov. Kay Ivey think?

During her campaign, Ivey said “if people want to vote (on a lottery), that is fine.”

Critics aren’t convinced

The Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank, has been vocal in opposition to the lottery.

“Lotteries are often marketed as merely a form of entertainment, one that can be converted into a public good by investing the proceeds into education or other government programs. While this view is appealing on the surface, it is more accurate to think of the lottery as a tax,” API said in a statement. “Lottery players lose an average of 47 cents on the dollar for each ticket, and with such low payouts, tickets act as an implicit tax of 38 percent. Thus, the revenue derived from a lottery can be thought of as an excise tax on playing the lottery, especially considering the extremely low odds of winning.

“Any source of revenue that preys on the poor and vulnerable to be successful is wrong. A lottery is more than just a personal vice that affects the individual who chooses to do it; it is an economic injustice that Alabamians of all political leanings should oppose,” the group added.

When was the last lottery vote?

Alabamians last voted on a statewide lottery in 1999, when they rejected Gov. Don Siegelman’s plan for an Education Lottery. The referendum failed in a 54-46 percent vote amid heavy pressure from religious groups.

Former Gov. Robert Bentley proposed a statewide lottery in 2016 in response to a state budget crisis. Bentley’s measure was approved by the Senate but didn’t clear the House.

States without a lottery

Alabama is one of six states that don’t have a lottery. Currently, Alabama, Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah don’t participate in a lottery, though that’s scheduled to change later this year in Mississippi, which expects to begin gaming this year. Nevada, home to gambling hub Las Vegas, has resisted a lottery for fear it would cut into casino profits.

How other states use lottery money

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, on average, about 1 percent of state revenue comes from lotteries, with proceeds most often going towards education. Sometimes the money goes into the general fund but it is typically pledged towards special projects, like schools or infrastructure.

At last count, there were 11 states in which lottery revenues exceeded revenues from corporate taxes.

How will Mississippi use its lottery money?

Mississippi’s lottery calls for the first $80 million in revenue to go towards road and bridge construction. Any revenue over $80 million will go to the Education Enhancement Fund to benefit education.

The Mississippi lottery is expected to raise $40 million the first year. After 10 years, that first $80 million goes to the state’s general fund.

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Disclaimer

Registration on or use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement, Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement, and Your California Privacy Rights (each updated 1/1/21).

© 2021 Advance Local Media LLC. All rights reserved (About Us).
The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Advance Local.

Community Rules apply to all content you upload or otherwise submit to this site.

Lottery in Alabama? Will it finally happen? Here’s what you need to know Could Alabama soon join Mississippi in having a statewide lottery? Dan Gleiter, PennLive, 2016 PENNLIVE.COM The Alabama ]]>